Anti-Union Construction Association Cite Effectiveness of Building Trades Legislation

June 25, 2015 - Anti-union construction interests in California are continuing their desperate sounding pleas to try to stop bills sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) that would have the effect of increasing school districts’ use of a skilled and trained workforce that has graduated from state-approved apprenticeship programs, on school construction projects, delivering a highly trained, streamlined work force, and ensuring quality of school construction under the lowest bid. They obviously fear that these sensible goals would disrupt their hopes to win construction contracts with lesser trained, lower wage workers.

Once again, in their notice, they fraudulently claim that 80 percent of California’s construction workforce is non-union, obviously an impossibility since 95 percent of the 40,000 apprentices in state-approved construction apprenticeships are in union programs. Perhaps they are referring to the contractors that employ the underground economy, exploiting untrained workers, often with cash payments and no benefits.

The bills they are opposing are AB 566 (O’Donnell) to apply the workforce requirements to schools using “lease/leaseback” financing; AB 1185 (Ridley Thomas) to create a pilot program authorizing the Los Angeles Unified School District to use a best value procurement method for projects that comply with the requirements; AB 1358 (Dababneh), to apply the requirements to “design/build” projects; and AB 1431 (Gomez), pertaining to job order contracting.

In spite of the opposition’s desperate claims, AB 566, AB 1185, and AB 1431 were all recently approved by the Senate Education Committee. But the desperate anti-union response indicates that our opponents are becoming angered and flustered by our effectiveness and good legislation.

The message from anti-union construction interests in California and sample letters to legislators in opposition to the bills follow. Their letter is well worth reading, and will better inform union representatives on the misrepresentation of the facts that these low-wage contractors use.

URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT
ACT NOW to Protect Skilled Trades Workers from Unemployment
June 23, 2015
We need your help opposing the “skilled and trained workforce” legislation – right now. Bills AB 566, AB 1185,AB 1358, AB 1431, include inherently misleading information that could force thousands of California’s construction workforce into unemployment, force hundreds of small companies out of business, and would cost California’s tax payers significantly more to fund public works projects. 
These bills are moving rapidly through the legislative process. If you don’t act now, they will likely pass, and non-union contractors and their tradespeople will not be able to work on school projects, or other public works projects. Contact the legislators listed below, and tell them you OPPOSE AB 566, AB 1185, AB 1358 and AB 1431. We have attached sample letters to the following legislators. Please fill them out and send them in. Alternatively, phone calls take just a few seconds. Every call counts!
Appropriations Committee: 
Ricardo Lara, Appropriations Committee Chair
Capitol Office, State Capitol, Room 5050, Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: (916) 651-4033
 
Patricia Bates, Appropriations Committee Vice Chair
State Capitol, Room 4048, Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4036
 
Senator (Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Sonoma, Trinity Counties):
Mike McGuire, Senator
State Capitol, Room 5064, Sacramento, CA 95814-4900
Phone: (916) 651-4002
 
Over 80% of workers in the California construction industry do not belong to unions. These non-union workers have built schools, courthouses, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Some of them have learned their trades through apprenticeship training and others have learned on the job through decades of experience. If these bills pass, many of these workers could become unemployed.
Contractors employ a skilled, safe and trained workforce. The language in these bills is twisted and skewed – it favors only apprentices and journey level workers dispatched from union-sponsored programs. Non-union contractors would be forced to have their staff retrained, a cost-prohibitive and logistically impossible requirement. Many construction businesses, particularly small, family owned businesses or those based in rural areas without access to such training programs, would be forced out of business by these requirements. 
Thesebills define a “skilled journeyperson” to be one who “graduated from an apprenticeship program that was approved by the Chief of DAS or located outside California and approved for federal purposes pursuant to apprenticeship regulations adopted by the Secretary of Labor, or 2) has at least as many hours of on-the-job experience in an applicable occupation as would be required to graduate from an apprenticeship program for the applicable occupation that is approved by the chief.
There are a variety of apprenticeship programs run by open shop, non-union contractor associations who have fully operational apprenticeship training programs. These programs would not be acceptable under this legislation, and many would be forced to close, reducing the available training resources for the construction industry at large. 
In addition to forcing thousands of construction workers into unemployment, these bills would have disastrous effects for taxpayers. With a greatly reduced pool of construction workers remaining to build, remodel, repair, and maintain infrastructure for schools, school districts will experience significant construction delays. School districts will have to pay more to complete projects under these new restrictive laws than they would under current California law. Nationally, union workers costs are 30 percent more than non-union workers.
These bills would require costly oversite and administration from school districts and public agencies. Theyset an onerousprocess that requirespublic entities confirm all contractors and subs comply with the “commitment” to use a skilled workforce, and only permits school districts to avoid this process by entering into a Project Labor Agreement.

These bills all contain provisions on “skilled and trained workforce.” For example, the following is from AB 1358 dealing with design/build:

1).  A design-build entity shall not be prequalified or shortlisted unless the entity provides an enforceable commitment to the school district that the entity and its subcontractors at every tier will use a skilled and trained workforce to perform all work on the project or contract that falls within an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades.

(1)   For purposes of this subdivision:

(A)     “Apprenticeable occupation” means an occupation for which the Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards had approved an apprenticeship program pursuant to Section 3075 of the Labor line 2 Code before January 1, 2014.

(B)     Defines "skilled and trained workforce" as a workforce that meets all of the following conditions:

i)      All workers are either skilled journeypersons or apprentices registered in an apprenticeship program approved by the Chief of the DAS.

ii)        Individuals and subcontractors at every tier employed to perform work on the contract or project are comprised of skilled journeypersons that are graduates of an apprenticeship program approved by the Chief of the DAS or located outside California and approved for federal purposes pursuant to the apprenticeship regulations adopted by the federal Secretary of Labor, meeting the specified percentages and timeline:

(1)  At least 20% by January 1, 2016.

(2) At least 30% by January 1, 2017.

(3)  At least 40% by January 1, 2018.

(4)  At least 50% by January 1, 2019.

(5)  At least 60% by January 1, 2020.

The following list summarizes each of the bills to oppose:

·         AB 566 (O’Donnell)  – Would apply to schools utilizing lease/lease-back arrangements for projects from $1 million and overto comply with the PLA and “skilled and trained workforce” provisions.

·         AB 1185 (Ridley-Thomas) – Would establish a pilot program to authorize the Los Angeles Unified School District to use, before December 31, 2020, a best value procurement method for bid evaluation and selection for public projects that exceed $1 million to comply with the “skilled and trained workforce” provisions.

·         AB 1358 (Dababneh)  – Would require all schools utilizing design/build or best value for projects over

·         AB 1431 (Gomez)- Expands the Local Agency Public Construction Act that authorizes job order contracting process currently used by the Los Angeles Unified School District, to authorize job order contracting in a similar manner for all other school districts until January 1, 2022. 

Again, while the four bills ‘only’ affect schools, these provisions will likely be included in all public works projects and even into privately funded projects that includesome public funding.

 

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